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Our Atlanta product liability attorneys are following recent news about Honda’s recall of 126,000 motorcycles with malfunctioning brakes, the second such recall done. These vehicle recalls show product defects in vehicles could potentially cause accidents, injuries, and even deaths.

The recalled motorcycles include GL-1800 motorcycles from 2001 through 2010, and those from 2012. Honda issued an initial recall of these motorcycles in December 2011, but continued receiving complaints. Honda told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that the reason for the problharley davidsonem was undetermined, and they were still investigating the cause.

Through July 24 of this year, Honda received 533 complaints about problems with the bikes. It turns out the secondary brake master cylinder can cause the rear brake to drag, which in turn can cause a crash or fire. The complaints include reports of eight small fires; luckily, no reports of crashes or injuries related to these brake problems were received.

Honda will send a letters to the owners of the affected motorcycles, explaining the problem and how to look for it. If the motorcycle is defective, an owner can take it to the dealer for inspection. They will receive another letter once the replacement parts are available to fix the motorcycle.

There are more than 200,000 registered motorcycles in Georgia. Over the recent Labor Day weekend, members of American Bikers Active Toward Education (ABATE) of Georgia stated that the trend of buying a motorcycle instead of a car is continuing since gas prices remain high. ABATE asserts that one motorcycle death is too many; the group’s slogan is, “Look twice to save a life.” With regard to their slogan, the group explains, “How to process that information is to look twice, so your brain receives two different signals and can triangulate the motorcycle’s presence, distance, and oncoming speed.” ABATE succeeded in helping to pass a bill increasing the penalty for those who cause injury or death to a motorcyclist. They also teach young drivers in schools, and help raise awareness that all drivers should drive safely and note all vehicles around them.

Motorcyclists remain vulnerable on the roads they share with bigger cars and trucks. Sometimes even good drivers, let alone those distracted or impaired, do not see these smaller vehicles. In already dangerous situations, defective or malfunctioning motorcycles can create even more serious consequences.

Atlanta Product Liability Lawyers

If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective product, or in an accident with another vehicle driven by a distracted or impaired driver, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. The Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter can help you understand your legal options choose a course of action. Contact us as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

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Our Atlanta medical malpractice attorneys read an article about a malpractice case against a dentist in DeKalb County.

Haley Buice, a 33 year-old mother of four, began seeing Dr. James Cauley in 2008 at Coast Dental of Georgia in Acworth. She alleged that Dr. Cauley demonstrated shoddy workmanship when implanting veneers, improperly fitted more than 12 crowns, proposed unnecessary treatment for healthy teeth, and ignored problems with unhealthy teeth. The treatments came to more than $20,000, but the billing was never properly documented. Dr. Cauley left Coast Dental in 2009 before getting a file9261297827467chance to finish the work, and Ms. Buice was forced to seek treatment from other dentists to fix Dr. Cauley’s work.

After filing the initial complaint in 2010, Ms. Buice’s lawyers discovered Dr. Cauley had a problems with drug abuse. In 2011, Ms. Buice filed a claim against Coast Dental for negligent hiring, supervision, and retention. Coast Dental hired Dr. Cauley in 2007 despite his testing positive for Valium at a drug screening. The complaint alleges Dr. Cauley overdosed on a narcotic five weeks after he was hired, and that he used nitrous oxide intended for patients.

Dr. Cauley eventually settled with Ms. Buice; the terms of the settlement are confidential. In her suit against Coast Dental, a jury awarded Ms. Buice $2.8 million in compensatory damages. Coast Dental settled with Ms. Buice on her claims concerning Dr. Cauley’s drug use and negligent hiring, retention, and supervision, and compensated her for potential punitive damages.

Atlanta Medical Malpractice Lawyers

If you or a loved one has been injured by a negligent medical professional such as a dentist or psychologist, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. The Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter can help you understand your options and help you choose a course of action. Contact us as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

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Our Atlanta wrongful death attorneys are, like many Americans, following the frustrating stories of Veterans Affairs backlogs. People who fought for our country are finding themselves cheated out of the high quality, prompt medical care they deserve. One recent story concerns a Georgia family that will receive more than $100,000 from the Department of Veterans Affairs because a VA hospital in Augusta, Georgia, failed to properly treat Jimmy Lee Stapletfile0001770758579on, a 68 year-old veteran, for gallbladder cancer. Mr. Stapleton, who served in the Army from 1965 to 1967, suffered from two years of neglect and substandard care in three different VA hospitals before receiving his cancer diagnosis. He died at home on June 2.

Mr. Stapleton was first diagnosed with gallstones at the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center in 1998. The surgeons chose not to remove the gallstones at the time. After suffering in pain for 13 years, doctors diagnosed him with pancreatitis in 2011. In November of that year, doctors at the VA hospital decided that his gallbladder and part of his liver needed to be removed. Mr. Stapleton underwent surgery at the Atlanta VA Medical Center in early 2012. During the operation, doctors did not find any evidence of cancer, but ordered Mr. Stapleton to come for periodic testing and chemotherapy to prevent a potential spread of the disease. However, subsequent appointments were cancelled at the last minute by all three Georgia VA hospitals. The Stapletons repeatedly requested referral to a private hospital, but their requests were denied. Mr. Stapleton’s wife, Carolyn, later stated, “He was sent on a merry-go-round of canceled appointments from one hospital to another.” In August 2013, doctors finally diagnosed Mr. Stapleton with Stage 4 gallbladder cancer.

The family argued that the VA should have allowed Mr. Stapleton to receive treatment in a private medical center after Georgia’s three VA hospitals were unable to see him. After settling with the VA over Mr. Stapleton’s death, Carolyn Stapleton said, “The outcome’s unfair, and I truly believe if the VA had done their job, my husband would still be here today. No one should have to go through the same torture my husband and other veterans have, and I hope they don’t.”

Atlanta Wrongful DeathLawyers

If your loved one died as a result of negligence, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. The Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter can help you understand your legal options. Please contact us at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation.

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A 2008 salmonella outbreak caused by tainted peanut butter is the subject of a trial currently underway in Georgia. The outbreak, which sickened 700 people and killed at least nine more, led to one of the largest food recalls in US history. Our Atlanta product liability attorneys have been following the case, which made the news again this week.

file4761299722009The 76-count indictment (see our previous blog post about the trial here) names Michael Parnell, the owner of Peanut Corporation of America, Mary Wilkerson, the plant’s quality assurance manager, and another former manager, Samuel Lightsey. The indictment accuses the company of shipping tainted products and hiding lab tests that showed they contained salmonella. Wilkerson is also charged with obstructing justice.

Lightsey pled guilty in May, agreeing to testify for the prosecution in exchange for a lighter sentence. In six days of testimony, Lightsey spoke of how the Peanut Corporation of America shipped contaminated products with falsified documents stating they were free of salmonella, and of the presence of mold and mildew within the plant. He also told the court of how employees used a pellet gun to shoot birds that got inside the plant.

This week, Parnell’s attorney grilled Lightsey over his role in running the plant on a day-to-day basis. Concerning Ms. Wilkerson’s role in assisting the Food and Drug Administration, Lightsey admitted that, while he lied to FDA investigators, Ms. Wilkerson tried to assist them in finding documents. Defense attorneys asked Mr. Lightsey to review pre-salmonella outbreak audits, which showed that the plant received good marks from inspectors. They also asked why, out of thousands of lab reports, only about a dozen indicated positive tests for salmonella. The defense also pointed to Lightsey’s plea deal, which stipulated that, in exchange for assisting the prosecution, he could avoid a jail sentence.

Atlanta Product Liability Lawyers

If you or a loved one have been injured by a defective product, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. The Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter can help you understand your options and advise you on how to proceed. Please contact us as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

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Our Atlanta wrongful death attorneys read a news article recently about two wrongful death cases in Athens regarding pedestrians killed by cars. Areas with large numbers of pedestrians and other forms of transport, such as bicycles, need to make sure drivers are aware of the dangers of driving around these more vulnerable people close to the road.

DSC05911bBoth wrongful death suits were filed in Clarke County Superior Court. One victim was 73 year-old Roger Griffith. After suffering an injury 20 years ago that made walking difficult, particularly over long distances, he often used a wheelchair to get around. A car hit him as he crossed Lexington Road in his electric wheelchair on the night of April 8th last year. He was killed instantly. The police report noted that Mr. Griffith’s wheelchair was not equipped with lights or reflectors, and a portion of the street where the accident occurred did not have street lights. His wife, Zelma Griffith, said her husband often used his wheelchair to visit people and run errands, and to travel to the bus stop on Lexington Road. The police did not cite the 66 year-old driver of the car that hit Mr. Griffith. I
n her complaint, Zelma Griffith stated that Mr. Griffith had crossed two lanes when the car hit him, and that Mr. Griffith “had already entered the roadway under safe conditions” when the driver failed to yield. She filed the lawsuit on July 22, and is seeking to recover the full value of her husband’s life, “in an amount to be determined by the enlightened conscience of a fair and impartial jury.”

The second lawsuit involved the death of 33 year old Teri Lynn Manders. A car struck Ms. Manders as she crossed West Broad Street on May 19. She was taken to the hospital but, due to the severity of her injuries, was taken off life support six days later. Police did not cite the driver, and found that Ms. Manders was wearing dark clothing at the time. On July 18, the administrator of Ms. Manders’ estate filed a negligence claim against the 65 year-old driver and her 78 year-old brother, who was a passenger in the car. The complaint asserts that the driver was reckless and failed to yield the right of way to Ms. Manders on the road. It also claims the brother was negligent “in entrusting (his sister) with his automobile when he knew or should have known that she was incapable of operating a motor vehicle.” The lawsuit seeks compensation for Ms. Manders’ life, and punitive damages “in a fair amount to be determined by the jury.”

Atlanta Wrongful Death Lawyers

If a loved one has died as a result to negligence, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. The Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter can help you understand your options and advise you on how to proceed. Please contact us as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation.

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med mal 3Our Atlanta psychiatrist malpractice attorney recently read an alarming story about a former University of Florida psychiatry professor forced to give up his Florida medical licence last June. This case before the Board of Medicine concerned his involvement in the death of a patient, Alice Tomlinson, in 2010. The ruling also required that he agree to never reapply for a Florida medical license. The psychiatrist, Dr. Harold E. Smith, had already had his medical license suspended or revoked in several states, including Georgia, Arkansas, Virginia, and Tennessee. He has had several disciplinary actions brought against him over a span of more than 20 years.

The case of Dr. Smith demonstrates just how worrying it can be when doctors can avoid the damage of malpractice claims and bad professional conduct by moving between states, each of which has its own licensing structure. In addition to the state actions against him, Dr. Smith had also been subject to disciplinary action by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration in 2011 that led to the revocation of his certificate to prescribe controlled substances due to his submitting false information. These disciplinary actions, which were all due to his problems with drugs and alcohol, ought to have warned of continuing misconduct on the part of Dr. Smith.

The University of Florida Health Shands Hospital hired Dr. Smith one year ago as an assistant professor in the College of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry. He also treated patients with alcohol and drug addiction at the Florida Recovery Center. At the time of his hiring, he already faced the complaint over Ms. Tomlinson’s death, who had been prescribed Oxycontin despite showing signs of oversedation. She was discovered on the floor, unresponsive, and was later pronounced dead at the hospital. At the time of Ms. Tomlinson’s death, Dr. Smith had two prior actions against him in Florida, one was for improperly prescribing Oxycontin to family members, the other was for using crack cocaine and opioids. The University of Florida has refused to discuss what they knew about Dr. Smith’s problems with drug and alcohol abuse prior to his hiring. Dr. Smith was put on unpaid leave in December, and then resigned in May.

There lawsuit over Ms. Tomlinson’s death is ongoing, and is scheduled next year for trial in Orange County. Ms. Tomlinson’s husband settled confidentially with the hospital involved, Central Florida Behavioral Hospital in Orlando.

Atlanta Psychiatrist Malpractice Lawyers

If a negligent psychiatrist has hurt you or a loved one, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. The Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter may be able to help you understand your case and advise you on how to proceed. Please contact us as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

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Our Atlanta truck accident lawyers know that tractor trailers can be dangerous to other cars on the road, but also to pedestrians, cyclists, or people who have to stop by the side of the road for an emergency. Tragically, a recent news story has shown that all too clearly again, cutting short the life of a promising young athlete.

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Torrin Lawrence, 25 years old, was a champion runner at the University of Georgia, where he graduated in 2013 with a degree in sociology. While on the Georgia track and field team from 2009-2012, he was the SEC and NCAA champion, set a collegiate record, and held three school records. He was a four time All-American and in 2010 was the US Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association National Male Track Athlete of the Year. Before his tragic death, he was competing as a professional athlete in Atlanta and representing the US track and field team at international competitions. He had a successful career ahead of him as one of the fastest sprinters in the country. He ran for the US at the IAAF World Relays in Nassau, the Bahamas, two months ago, running the first leg of the 4×400 relay and helping the team capture gold. And in early July, he ran a personal best outdoor time of 45.32 at a competition in Belgium.

Torrin was driving home to Jacksonville, Florida, after training in Athens when his car had a flat tire on Interstate 75 near Cordele, about 90 miles from the Georgia-Florida border, on Monday morning. His car was stopped in a southbound lane and Torrin got out of the car to call 911. A tractor trailer smashed into his car, knocking the car into him. He died at the scene from injuries sustained in the crash.

The CEO of USA Track and Field, Max Siegel, said,  “We were devastated to learn of Torrin’s passing early this morning. Torrin represented USATF with pride and passion, and had an incredible future ahead of him. We join those who will miss him deeply.” And Wayne Norton, the track coach at Georgia, said, “In speaking for the UGA track and field community, I am shocked and pained with news of Torrin’s death. First, my prayers for comfort are for Torrin’s mother and family. Second, this makes me reflect on Torrin and remember him as one of the greatest talents I have ever seen in our sport and as gentle man.” He also said, “Torrin was an easy person to get along with and almost always improved the atmosphere wherever he went. He did some great things in track and for UGA.”​

Atlanta Truck Accident Lawyers

If you or a loved one has been hurt in a vehicle crash due to the negligence of another driver, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. The Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter may be able to help you understand your case and advise you how to proceed, so contact us as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

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Our Atlanta medical malpractice attorneys read about a medical malpractice judgment that was overturned due to a trial judge responding to a note from a juror, which was found to be improper by the Georgia Court of Appeals.

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The case is Phillips v. Harmon, and the trial judge, Judge Benjamin Studdard of Henry County Superior Court, received, among other notes, one from a juror saying the jury was deadlocked. The attorney for the plaintiff only found out about this note after the trial had concluded. During the trial, Judge Studdard had notified counsel of four other notes sent to him by the jury, but not about this particular note. He also did not mention to counsel his directions that the jury continue to deliberate, and did not preserve the notes for the record.

The case was about the mother of a child born blind and quadriplegic after a difficult birth. The two week trial ended with a verdict for the defendants, gynecologist Deborah Haynes, nurse-midwife Marcia Harmon, and Eagle’s Landing Ob-Gyn Associates. It was only two weeks after this verdict that one juror, Beverly Lemon Angelo, called the plaintiff’s attorney and told him the jury was deadlocked at the end of the second day of deliberations and the jury foreman had sent a note to the judge. Judge Studdard sent back a note in reply, “Please continue deliberating.” Ms. Angelo and another juror, Sandra Lynn Tanner, who did not agree with the majority felt like this instruction meant they should drop their objections and go with the majority. Ms. Tanner stated that she believed the instructions meant they had to keep deliberating until there was a unanimous verdict. She did not know that if there was no unanimous verdict another jury would hear the case.

The Georgia Court of Appeals found that the conduct with the note violated the Georgia Constitution and also legal precedent established in criminal law. A trial judge should not communicate with a jury about a case in the absence of the accused and his counsel. The judgment stated there was no reason for this rule to be different in civil cases. Judge Carla Wong McMillian, writing for the Court, stated, “[A]s a general proposition and broadly stated, a trial judge should not answer a question from the jury in a civil case about their ability to reach a verdict unless the parties and/or their counsel are present as well.”
The judgment did not make a determination as to whether Judge Studdard’s conduct violated the Georgia Code of Judicial Conduct. Judge Studdard asserts that his actions did not violate judicial ethics.

Atlanta Medical Malpractice Lawyers

If you or a loved one has been injured by a negligent medical proffesional, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. The Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter may be able to help you understand your case and advise you how to proceed, so contact us as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

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Our Atlanta medical malpractice attorneys know that an experienced and committed attorney is invaluable for any case. And when an attorney does not do his or her job, it jeopardizes a client’s case and also the achievement of justice. A medical malpractice case involving a Georgia lawyer who mishandled the case was in the news recently.

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Mike Berlon surrendered his legal license to the Supreme Court of Georgia. He is a former chairman of the Democratic Party in Georgia, a position he held until summer of 2013, and practiced law in Gwinnett County. He received a reprimand last summer from the Supreme Court and was pressured to resign as Democratic Party chairman by Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed. The medical malpractice case that is at issue began in June 2010. Mr. Berlon was concerned about the expiration of the statute of limitations in that case, but did not inform his client. In an opinion on the issue from the Supreme Court, the Court said he told his client that he “believed there was sufficient time in which to file an action and falsely led her to believe that he was actively working on the case by sending a demand letter, contacting expert witnesses, and preparing to file an action.” In reality, Mr. Berlon never filed any action on behalf of the client and continued to give her bad advice through the beginning of 2012. Not only was the case handled so badly, but the Supreme Court also found that Mr. Berlon’s responses to the complaint about the case with the Georgia State Bar also contained “factual misrepresentations.”

It is also not the only incident of misconduct by Mr. Berlon. He also reached a settlement with two other former clients in an unrelated case to reimburse them for over $1 million. That money was to establish an estate trust, but Mr. Berlon allegedly used the money for personal things. However, as of April 2014, that money was still not returned to the clients. When asked about it, he said, “There’s a lot more to it. I’m confident that once we get through the entire process that this is all going to work out.”

Mr. Berlon told reporters that surrendering his legal license over the medical malpractice case was “the right thing to do.” About this issue, he said, “There’s really no other side of the story to tell. My office was hired to handle a malpractice case for somebody and basically we didn’t get it right. I’m ultimately responsible for that. We just missed it. There were some errors that were made.” He continues to believe he will be readmitted as an attorney in Georgia in the future and he has received other offers for “a lot of different things.”

Atlanta Medical Malpractice Lawyers

If you or a loved one has been injured by a negligent medical professional, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. This case shows clearly how important it is to have a good lawyer on your side when dealing with a medical malpractice case, or any case. To discuss any steps to move forward with legal options for the abusive situation, contact the Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

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Our Atlanta elder abuse attorneys read an article about an employee of a nursing home in Thomasville being accused of elder abuse. That employee is Shauntavia Bates, a 25-year-old who worked at Southern Pines Senior Living. On May 16, police allege that Ms. Bates hit an elderly 81-year-old woman and sprayed her with water as she called for help. Another employee heard her cries and went to investigate. The other employee said she saw the elderly woman standing in the shower and Ms. Bates was forcing water into her mouth. The woman could not speak at that point because her mouth was too full of liquid. The other employee also saw Ms. Bates hit the woman with the back of her hand on her neck.

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Another woman, Ms. Bates’ supervisor Stacey Sams, was allegedly told about the abuse and did not report it. Ms. Sams has now also been charged for failure to report abuse of a disabled or elderly person, which is a misdemeanour crime.
The police were only notified of this incident in June. Ms. Bates was arrested in June, one day after the incident was reported. Ms. Sams turned herself in a few days after Ms. Bates’ arrest. Thomasville Police Department spokesperson Lieutenant Eric Hampton said, “Disturbing when you hear these kind of things happen. We take it very seriously when it’s reported to us and so we do take immediate action.” He further said, “The reason Ms. Sams was charged in the case is because she failed to report it after the witness had reported it to her.” Southern Pines Senior Living said they brought the incident to the police when they learned of it and are cooperating in the investigation.
Ms. Bates denies the whole incident and says she is innocent. She told reporters, “It breaks my heart because I have three kids, two step kids. I am a wife, my heart goes out to the elderly.” Of the incident, she said, “I washed her hair, gave her a shower, the same way that I would do if 1,000 people we’re watching.” She also said, “The detective asked what would I do different, I’d still go in and give a shower the same exact way, I wouldn’t change anything at all.” Ms. Bates insists she would never harm anyone, that she worked at Southern Pines because she wanted to help people, and that she is looking forward to clearing her name.
Ms. Bates was released from jail on a $5,100 bond and the Thomasville Police Department is still trying to determine why this alleged abusive incident may have happened.

Atlanta Elder Abuse Lawyers

If an elderly loved one has been the victim of elder abuse, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. To discuss any steps to move forward with legal options for the abusive situation, contact the Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

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